Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Commonwealth status 'not automatic'

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Media captionCommonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma spoke to the BBC's Raymond Buchanan

The Commonwealth's top official has suggested to Newsnight Scotland that an independent Scotland may have to apply for membership of the organisation.

SNP ministers have reiterated that they would want an independent Scotland to stay in international bodies such as the Commonwealth.

But the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said that process may not be automatic.

He indicated that membership would likely be decided by the 54 members.

He said: "These are internal political processes of member states on which the Commonwealth doesn't get involved.

"But speculatively, if and when were this situation to arise then my anticipation is that a question like this won't have automaticity. It would be referred.

"The heads would have to take a view of it, of the situation."

He said the rules concerning Commonwealth membership were a matter of interpretation.

"This is something that would need to be examined," he said.

‪A Scottish government spokesman said: "The entire basis of the Commonwealth is that it is an organisation overwhelmingly comprised of countries which have become independent from Westminster rule.

"In the event of a vote for independence in next year's referendum we look forward to Scotland taking its place as a member of the Commonwealth family of nations in its own right."

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